Baseball Insider

Rangers and Josh Hamilton won't talk money until after the year

With no common ground found between the Rangers and superstar outfielder Josh Hamilton, the sides aren't expected to pick up contract talks until after the year, people familair with the situation tell CBSSports.com.

The Rangers have yet to make a contract offer this year for the free-agent-to-be star, quite possibly because they view the gap as being too wide to bridge. Hamilton was said this spring by a source to be seeking to be paid like an "elite'' player, which presumably means a deal along the lines of the 9- and 10-year, $200-million-plus deals received by Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder and Joey Votto at about that time.

Two rival GMs said Hamilton shouldn't expect more than a four-to-five year deal, with one saying "it should be $100 (million) for five, tops'' and another predicting Hamilton should get $25-to-28 million a year for five, which translates to $125 million to $140 million.

The Rangers have purposely stayed away from ultra-long deals in all cases, and indications are that they won't buck that trend here. While they love Hamilton, better than anyone they also know the risks. Rangers president Nolan Ryan recently criticized Hamilton's lack of plate discipline, and Hamilton later beat himself up over his inability to quit chewing tobacco.

Hamilton's agent Michael Moye said it's against his company policy to discuss ongoing contract situations. Rangers GM Jon Daniels also declined to comment.

The Rangers have been disciplined about not going overboard with contracts for stars, at least in terms of term. They gave a five-year deal with vesting option to Adrian Beltre and have given Michael Young and Ian Kinsler five-year extensions. They are believed to have offered a six-year deal to Cliff Lee, who took similar money over five years when he chose to sign with the Phillies instead. The Rangers tried for Fielder but are believed to have held the line there at six years, as well.

Hamilton, 31, has had two relapses during his otherwise extremely successful time with the Rangers, which included an MVP, a batting title and two World Series appearances. He was batting .281 with 29 home runs and 91 RBI going into this afternoon's game against the Red Sox, in which he hit his 30th home run. Hamilton seems to be gaining steam after a slide following an extraordinary start that saw him have a 1.181 OPS going into June.

While the competing execs predict a five-year deal for Hamilton, they allow for the "only takes one'' theory to rule. The Dodgers are a new big player for the big players, and one of the GMs noted, "I think he would fit for the Dodgers. Imagine Kemp-Hamilton-Hanley-Ethier.''

 
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